On Saturday, May 5, 51 graduates moved their tassels and took the next step down the path God has laid out for them. The Commencement Exercises took place at Graceway, and many family and friends joined us in celebrating the Class of 2018.
Just a few of the 2018 graduates: (l to r) Toyosi Ishola, Cameron Rucker, Joel Lyons, Koku Akakpo, Akpene Akakpo, Andrew Busakula, and Samuel Her
Dr. Paul Benware gave the address to the graduates. He drew our attention to the four mirages that King Solomon found to be meaningless: knowledge, pleasure, material things, and labor. Dr. Benware pointed out that these are still very much a problem today. However, when God is in the right place in your life, these other things make sense. He encouraged the graduates to devote themselves to Jesus Christ. He also reminded them that God doesn’t require us to be famous, but He does insist that we be faithful.
Dr. Paul Benware
Degrees were conferred as follows: 2 associate’s degrees, 31 bachelor’s degrees, and 18 master’s degrees.
Kevin Haskin received his diploma from Dr. Eric Stricker. (Also pictured from l to r: Rev. Charlie Paine, Dr. Bitner, and Dr. Cone)
As is traditional at Calvary, the father of one of this year’s graduates spoke at the Baccalaureate Service on May 4. Steve Wong is the senior pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Belmont, California, and the father of Karinna Wong. He challenged the graduates to face their fears, because God is more powerful than any fear with which they struggle. 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Reverend Wong also did a great Cowardly Lion impression!
Reverend Steve Wong
Baccalaureate is a service of worship and dedication held on the day before Commencement. Graduates and faculty wear regalia and walk in procession.
On May 3 the Graduation Week festivities began with Awards Chapel. Awards were presented by the different academic departments to deserving graduates.
Graduate Level Bible & Theology Award Recipients, Monique Spalding (l) and Karl Seele (r), with Dr. Tom Baurain
There were also non-academic awards for things like Christian character and Christian ministry.
One of the Christian Character Award Recipients, Tasha Krahn (middle), with Cory Trowbridge and Arely Perez
This year we created a new award called “Who’s Who at Calvary University,” and eleven undergraduates and seven graduate level students were the first to receive it.
Two of the Who’s Who at Calvary University Award Recipients, Koku (l) and Akpene (middle) Akakpo, with Dr. Bitner
Graduates who excelled with high grade point averages were presented with their cords to wear with their regalia.
Alumni Induction Luncheon
Following Awards Chapel, we invited the graduates to attend the Alumni Induction Luncheon. We enjoyed a delicious taco bar from Silber Spoons Catering!
Graduates, family, and friends enjoying the Alumni Induction Luncheon
Then I presented Alumni Association certificates to each graduate in attendance. I also took some time to recognize the spouses of the graduates for what they have done to “put honey through.” As I welcomed the graduates to the alumni family, I informed them of the benefits and responsibilities that come with that distinction. Dr. Hessel shared a brief word from the Development Department, and Jeanette Regier showed the new alumni what kind of family they are joining by sharing specific examples of Calvary alumni.
Athletic Director Jeanette Regier speaking to the graduates
Gracia Burnham (Jones CA81) was the Commencement speaker
The biggest and final event of Commencement Week was, of course, the Commencement Exercises. The ceremony took place at Graceway on Saturday, May 6. This year we were delighted to have our very own alumna, Gracia Burnham, deliver the commencement address. She impersonated a flight attendant giving instructions on using the oxygen mask, and she reminded the graduates that, just as with oxygen masks, one cannot give to others what one hasn’t already received. She also spoke about faith using examples from Martin Burnham’s take offs and landings on a mountain airstrip in the Philippines. When the diplomas were presented, thirty-nine graduates received their degrees.
One of my favorite moments during Commencement was when Eiliene Blake walked across the stage to a standing ovation. Mrs. Blake attended Midwest Bible and Missionary Institute (a parent school of Calvary) back in the ‘50s and was just a few credits short of completing her three-year degree when she left school to get married. She has served God faithfully for more than sixty years as a pastor’s wife, missionary teacher, mother, Sunday School teacher, and Bible study leader. However, she always regretted not finishing her degree. At the prompting of her children, we found that Mrs. Blake had already completed enough credits to earn an associate’s degree, and so she made the trip down from Michigan to join the Class of 2017!
Eiliene Blake (Crabdree) received her associate’s degree and a standing ovation.
On Friday, May 5, our graduates participated in the annual Baccalaureate Service. This year’s speaker was James Payne, a 1987 Calvary alumnus and father of graduate Nick Payne. Mr. Payne started his message by making sure we all understood the definition of “baccalaureate.” He went on to remind the graduates that they have learned the truth during their time at Calvary. Now they need to go out and seek wisdom through experience and applying their knowledge to “real life.” Stay tuned for next week’s Part 3 when I will recap the actual Commencement exercises!